Lagos NANTAP Honours Austen-Peters On World Theatre Day

Austeen Peters

Austeen Peters

The Lagos State chapter of National Association of Nigerian Theatre Arts Practitioners (NANTAP) has announced that it will commemorate the 2015 edition of the World Theatre Day on June 26.

The International Theatre Institute (ITI), an arm of UNESCO, had declared the day to be commemorated on every March 27th and NANTAP has annually commemorated the day since 1991.

But this year, the Lagos chapter of the association said it was constrained to move the celebration to June 26, 2015 because of the uncertainties that followed the run up to the 2015 election.

The election that would have held in February 2015 was later moved to March 28 and this affected the planning and staging of the 2015 edition.

Chairman of Lagos State chapter of NANTAP Faith Eki Eboigbe disclosed at a press briefing held on Wednesday at National Theatre complex, Lagos, that the day had to be moved forward because of the exigencies of the time.

According to her, ‘’We scanned our environment and realized that it would not be feasible to commemorate the day as a result of the anxieties that followed the build up to the general elections.

Although we issued a statement then, we felt it would be irresponsible and insensitive of us to go ahead with the commemoration considering the mood of the nation. So we decided to shift it until when we are done with the elections”.

To be held under the theme of ‘Theatre and Conflict Resolution in the 21st Century’, the one-day commemorative event that is supported by National Theatre management will hold at the Banquet Hall of the National Theatre on June 26 beginning at 12noon. It will feature a keynote speech on the theme of the commemoration, performances, presentation of awards and investiture of World Theatre Day personality.

The Managing Director of FSDH Mr. Rilwane Bello Osagie will chair the commemorative event while the Country Director of British Council, Lagos, Mr. Connie Price will serve as guest speaker.

Also, Lagos NANTAP chair disclosed that the Managing Director of Terra Kulture Mrs. Bolanle Austen Peters would be decorated as the WTD 2015 Distinguished Personality.

According to Eboigbe, “Each year we identify and recognize a personality that has contributed greatly to the growth and development of theatre profession and Mrs. Bolanle Austen-Peters rightly qualifies to be honoured because of her immense contribution to the growth and development of the arts.

Apart from running the upscale cultural centre in Lagos, Terra Kulture, Mrs. Austen-Peters has dedicated the space at Terra Kulture to sustained theatre production.

She has also ventured into production of theatre with the musical production Saro, a production that has engaged so many of our members. I must say that the passion and commitment she has exhibited is worth celebrating”.

Also speaking, chairman of WTD organising committee for Lagos NANTAP Shaibu Husseini said Austen-Peters was unanimously chosen because of her invaluable contribution to the development of the arts particularly the theatre profession.

He noted, “We usually vote to select a personality to be honoured each year but this year we unanimously chose Mrs. Austen-Peters because her record of service is there for everyone to see”. He also noted that some important personalities would also be recognized on the day of theatre.

On others to be honoured, Eboigbe said, “We shall induct some personality as ambassadors of the theatre profession and another set as certified thespians. The idea is to remind the certified thespians where it all started for them, and that is the stage. As for the ambassadors, it is to appreciate them for their selfless service to the theatre profession”.

Those to be decorated as ambassadors include filmmaker and Executive Director of iREP Documentary Film Festival Mr. Femi Odugbemi, Efe Omoregbe, Mrs. Laja Adedoyin, Yemi Sodimu, Dr. Ostia Ezewanabe of University of Lagos and the founder and President of African Film Academy Peace Anyiam Osigwe, while those to be decorated as certified thespians include dance major and filmmaker Emem Isong, Najite Dede, Lancelot Oduwa Imaseun, Teju Babyface, Ejike Asiegbu, Pat Oghre Imobhio and Roger Ofime.

NANTAP Chairman also stated that there would be an arts exhibition, which would be mounted in front of the venue of the event, stating, “We intend to set up an endowment fund for the chapter and proceeds from the sale of art works will be used as seed money for the fund which is intended at supporting projects by members and meeting them at their challenging moments”.

The 2015 WTD Distinguished Personality, Austen-Peters has a Master’s degree in International Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Law degree from the University of Lagos. She is the founder of Terra Kulture: an educational and recreational organisation set up in 2003 to promote the richness and diversity of Nigerian languages, arts and culture.

Today, Terra Kulture, a private sector initiative, is a resounding success recognised as a major cultural hub in Nigeria for expatriates, students, Hollywood and Nollywood stars, artists and members of the diplomatic corps.

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